There’s no reason to fear puff pastry. It only contains 4 ingredients (including the water) and the major effort is waiting for it to chill several times before you can make it into flaky croissants, crisp palmiers, or delicious fruit turnovers, to name a few.
makes about 1 pound
7/8 cup unsalted butter (7 oz.)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (7 oz.)
1 tsp. salt
4 T. cold water
1. Mix the salt into the flour. Divide the butter in two equal portions. Cut half the butter into small pieces and cut into the flour, using a pastry blender, fork, or your fingertips. Work quickly, not worrying if it isn’t perfect.
8. Roll the dough into a square about 1/2 inch thick. Press the remaining butter into a square (I pressed it under a plate) and shape it into a square with the side of a knife. Place the butter in the center of the dough square catycornered to the dough.
11. The final goal is for the dough to be rolled out a total of six times.
1st & 2nd rolling out:
Take out the chilled dough and roll it out, using flour to dust your surface and pin, until it is a thin sheet.
14. 5th & 6th roll out:
Take it out one more time and roll out two final times. At this point the dough is ready to be used or wrapped and refrigerated or frozen. It will keep for several days in the refrigerator and at least a month if frozen.
Puff Pastry Tips:
- When preparing the dough for baking, make sure all edges you want to puff up are cut cleanly with a sharp knife or the layers may stick together and have a tough time rising. If you paint the dough with an egg wash, try to keep it from the cut edges because it may glue the layers down as it cooks.
- Using unsalted butter is preferred because it is the moisture in the butter, turned to steam, which helps the dough to puff. Apparently salt inhibits this somewhat by making the water take longer to convert to steam. Don’t substitute margarine or whipped butter spread.
- It is best to make puff pastry in a cool room. Heat and humidity will make the dough more difficult to roll out because the butter will try to melt on you and make a mess, fast.
This is one basic and classic recipe, but there are a variety of puff pastry versions. For example, you can substitute cake flour or cornstarch for a portion of the all-purpose flour for extra tenderness. There
is also a variation for croissants which includes a yeast dough. One method incorporates part of the flour into the butter pat to help stabilize the dough while rolling out. Experiment and find the one that works best for you.